The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Special Collections & University Archives
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

Collecting area: Africa

Lewis, David L., 1936-

David Levering Lewis Papers

ca.1955-2012
54 boxes 81 linear feet
Call no.: MS 827
Depiction of David Levering Lewis
David Levering Lewis

The historian David Levering Lewis is the author of eight remarkably diverse monographs. Raised in an academic family, his father was president of Morris Brown College, Lewis enrolled at Fisk University at the age of 15 and was only 26 when he was awarded a doctorate in modern European history from the London School of Economics (1962). Through an academic career that has included numerous stops, including Morgan State, Notre Dame, Howard, the University of the District of Columbia (1970-1980), and Rutgers (1985-2003), Lewis remained consistently productive. Author of the first academic biography of Martin Luther King (1970) and a history of the Dreyfus Affair (1974), he wrote an influential study of the Harlem renaissance (1981) and important works on colonialism in Africa (1987) and Islamic Spain (2008), but he is best known for his two monumental biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois (1993, 2000), each of which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. One of the most lauded African American historians of his generation, Lewis was recipient of the Bancroft Prize, the Francis Parkman Prizes, the 2009 National Humanities Medal, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and he was elected as a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Lewis was Julius Silver University Professor in History at New York University from 2003 until his retirement.

The papers of David Levering Lewis document a long and productive career as an academic historian and scholar of African American history and culture. Beginning with his years in college and graduate school, the collection offers a rich perspective on the evolution of his career. Lewis’s essential biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois are particularly well documented, however the collection includes abundant materials for each of his earlier projects, including correspondence, research notes, and drafts.

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryColonies--Africa--HistoryDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963Harlem RenaissanceHistorians--United StatesKing, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968United States--History--20th century

Types of material

Photographs
Perry, Cynthia Shepard

Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers

1946-2010
7 boxes 10.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 842
Depiction of Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986

An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a Ed.D. from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning a doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for her expertise, she worked as a consultant to the United States Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.

A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry Papers include materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.

Gift of Cynthia Shepard Perry, Oct., 2014

Subjects

Africa--Foreign relations--United StatesBurundi--HistorySierra Leone--United StatesUnited States--Foreign relations--Africa

Types of material

MemorabiliaPhotographs
Primus, Pearl

Pearl Primus Collection

1995-2006
3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 912

A pioneer of African dance in the United States and a vital scholarly voice, Pearl Primus burst onto the scene in the early 1940s as a choreographer, performer, composer, and teacher. Born in Trinidad in 1919 and raised in New York City, Primus was introduced to performance through the National Youth Administration and the New Dance Group. Her interest in the dance cultures of Africa and the African diaspora formed the conceptual center of her work throughout her career, drawing upon her deep scholarly research. In addition to her creative work, Primus earned a doctorate in anthropology from NYU and taught at a number of universities, including the Five Colleges. She died in New Rochelle, N.Y., in October 1994.

Conducted with Pearl Primus’ fellow dancers, musicians, friends, and collaborators between 1995 and 2005, the interviews comprising this collection were recorded by Peggy and Murray Schwartz for use in their book, The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus (New Haven, 2011). The oral histories provide insights into Primus’s sometimes controversial life career, her performances, teaching, and legacy.

Gift of Peggy and Murray Schwartz, Dec. 2013

Subjects

ChoreographersDance--AfricaDancers

Contributors

Nash, Joe, 1919-2005Washington, Donald

Types of material

AudiocassettesBetacam-SPVideotapes
Quakers of Color

Quakers of Color International Archive

2019
14 interviews
Call no.: MS 1095

Launched by Harold D. Weaver in 2019, the Quakers of Color International Archive is part of a global initiative to document the beliefs, experiences, and contributions of people of color within the Society of Friends. Supported collaboratively by the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and the archives at UMass Amherst and Haverford College, the archive uses oral history and other approaches to document as fully as possible, the range of ideas and practices from all faith traditions within the Society.

An on-going project, the oral histories comprising the archive were conducted by Weaver and associates beginning in 2019. Representing Friends from several Yearly Meetings, the interviews include discussions of faith background and spiritual growth, theological orientation, Quaker identity, relations with monthly and yearly meetings, and the conduct of Quaker “business.”

Subjects

African American QuakersQuakers--Religious lifeSociety of Friends--BoliviaSociety of Friends--HistorySociety of Friends--KenyaSociety of Friends--MaineSociety of Friends--MassachusettsSociety of Friends--Pennsylvania

Contributors

Lapsansky-Werner, EmmaWeaver, Harold D.

Types of material

Motion pictures (Visual works)Oral histories (Literary works)
Shaw, Carolyn Martin, 1944-

Carolyn Martin Shaw Papers

1962-2017 Bulk: 1972-2010
10 boxes 12.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 974
Part of: Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive
Depiction of Carolyn Martin Shaw in Kenya, ca.1972
Carolyn Martin Shaw in Kenya, ca.1972

From a childhood spent in a tenement in Norfolk, Va., Carolyn Martin Shaw went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a pioneer in Black Feminist anthropology. Educated in segregated schools, she was an outstanding student, winning scholarship funding to Michigan State University, where she received both her BS (1966) and PhD (1975). Shaw’s dissertation on Kikuyu kinship morality marked several themes that she developed through subsequent research projects in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Based in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz throughout her career, she was a productive scholar, publishing dozens of articles and chapters, and two important monographs, Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Class and Sex in Kenya (1995) and Women and Power in Zimbabwe: Promises of Feminism (2015), and she filled a variety of administrative posts, including department chair, Provost of the Kresge residential college, and Chair of the UC system-wide Committee on Privilege and Tenure. She has received numerous awards in her career, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Zimbabwe in 1983-1984, a Danforth Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and a McHenry Award for Service to the Academic Senate at UCSC. Shaw retired from UCSC in 2010.

Documenting her work in Black feminist anthropology, the Carolyn Martin Shaw collection includes published and unpublished writing, correspondence, and a wealth of information on her research in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Along with her fieldnotes, research data, and photographs, the collection also includes records of her faculty service at USCS, and awards received for teaching and university service.

Gift of Carolyn Martin Shaw, May 2017

Subjects

Anthropologists--CaliforniaEthnology--KenyaEthnology--ZimbabweFeminismUniversity of California Santa Cruz--FacultyWomen--Africa
Swaim, Nina

Nina Swaim Papers

ca. 1950-2015
4 boxes 5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1125

Eleanor “Nina” Hathaway Swaim (1938-2015) was a feminist, environmental and antinuclear activist, antiwar organizer, and proponent of women’s collective enterprises globally. She was arrested for the final time just a month before her death, chained to the gates of a pipe yard in Williston, VT, protesting a fracked gas pipeline. Born into a conservative family in Sharon, MA, Swaim was radicalized during the mid-sixties by courses at the Free University on the Lower East Side and during the 1968 occupations at Columbia University, where she was an administrator. She joined the It’s All Right to be a Woman Theater in 1970 and toured the country with them before leaving New York City to work in a GI bookstore near a military base in Massachusetts, helping soldiers protesting the Vietnam War. Learning the printing trade, she moved to Vermont and co-founded the women’s collective press, New Victoria Press, worked as a mediation coordinator for the Vermont Supreme Court, and became a strong force in the antinuclear movement, helping found the Upper Valley Energy Coalition (UVCE), and co-authoring a book with Susan Koen, “A Handbook for Women on the Nuclear Mentality.” She met her husband, Douglas Smith, through UVEC, and the pair worked on numerous antinuclear, environmental, and other grassroots campaigns and protests together, including a project in Mozambique on water access, where Swaim worked as a cooperator with the revolutionary Organization of Mozambican Women. Other international work included picking cotton in Nicaragua, visiting Cuba under siege, and touring Gandhian centers in India to learn practical nonviolence and social change techniques. A practicing Buddhist, Swaim was an avid writer, gardener, beekeeper, and hiker, and in addition to her other causes, spearheaded numerous events related to the natural world, food security, and honeybees.

The Nina Swaim Papers offer an intimate look into the life of an indomitable and inspiring grassroots activist focused on both local Vermont issues and global concerns. Unpublished writings, clippings, and correspondence, as well as photographs, tapes, and scrapbooks reflect her international travels and work, as well as her community and concerns in the antinuclear and environmental movements based out of Vermont. Detailed writings, reflections, short stories, travel notes, and a comprehensive set of journals dating from the late sixties make up a large part of the collection. They are full of the musings of an activist pondering the meaning of women’s consciousness raising and conflict settlement, of worker collectives and other community building, of struggles and misunderstandings between lesbian and straight women, of power in organizations like Clamshell Alliance and the Upper Valley Energy Coalition, of motherhood and aging, and of the relationship between action for social change and spiritual practice.

Gift of Douglas V. Smith, 2021.

Subjects

Antinuclear movement--United StatesAntinuclear movement--VermontEnvironmental justiceFeminismNuclear energy--VermontPeace movements--United States

Contributors

Nina Swaim

Types of material

CorrespondenceDiariesPersonal narrativesPhotographs
Thrasher, Sue

Sue Thrasher Poster Collection

ca.1975-2010
50 posters, 1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 861

The activist, writer, and educator, Sue Thrasher became involved in the civil rights movement while a student at Scarritt College in 1961. A native of rural West Tennessee, Thrasher was drawn to the local chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee shortly after arriving on campus, and in 1964, she helped found the Southern Students Organizing Committee, serving as its first executive director and taking part in the “white folks project” during Mississippi Summer. As a stalwart of the freedom movement and its historian, she joined the staff at the Highlander Center in 1978, helping to organize their archives and conducting oral histories. After more than twenty years of social activism in the South, Thrasher came to UMass Amherst to earn a doctorate in Educational Policy and Research, and from 1997 until her retirement in 2013, she worked as Partnership Coordinator at Five Colleges Incorporated, linking faculty with public school districts in western Massachusetts. Among her several works on the civil rights movement is the collaborative volume Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (2000).

A visual record of Sue Thrasher’s involvement in movements for social justice, the collection includes dozens of posters reflecting international liberation movements (Mozambique, Palestine, Central America), Cuba, the antiwar movement, campaigns for literacy in Nicaragua, the International Council on Adult Education (Chile and Bangladesh), and activities at the Highlander Center (benefit concerts by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Sweet Honey in the Rock). The collection also includes two Nicaraguan masks collected by Thrasher.

Types of material

MasksPosters